Tag: showcase

Ontario Nationals ready for fourth CPBL season

Ahead of the fourth season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the Ontario Nationals are excited about what they have been able to accomplish in the circuit so far and are looking forward to striving for more.

After coming close to bringing home a trophy last year, the organization is hoping to build off of its successes and rack up the accolades over the course of this season.

“Last season was a step in the right direction,” Nationals director of baseball operations Jeremy Jayaweera said. “We had two teams play into the last day of the CPBL championships, with one of those teams being just one pitch away from clinching a championship. Our 18U team has a lot of returning players in their last year before heading to school, so being in their second year and knowing what to expect, I know this team will turn some heads.

“For our 15U and 16U squads, they are coming off strong seasons and are looking to take the next step. At our youngest level, 14U, we basically brought in a new crop of players – total athletes we know will be ready to compete day in and day out. The competition in this league is second to none and we will be ready come May.”

For the Nats, last year was highlighted by the improvements experienced at multiple levels, and the organization hopes that is a trend that will continue.

“Some notable moments from last year include out 15U and 16U teams playing on Sundays at huge events in the USA,” Jayaweera said. “Our 16U team fell short in two championship games against top teams in extras. Our 15U team really showed pride, and the development from year to year was amazing.

“When our 15U group was at the 14U level, they won three games; last year, they won over 20. They have something to prove this year and you can already see it in their off-season mentality. Watching our players grow from year to year is a feeling you cannot describe. The most impressive part is that from 14U to 18U, none of our players are satisfied – there is always more to give.”

With the winter well underway, the Nationals have made some off-season additions and changes to their regular programming and are looking forward to seeing the results when they are able to get out on the field.

“Our off-season started with weight training in October,” Jayaweera said. “We put them through vigorous training, which still continues. We have always been a great hitting organization from top to bottom – nothing changes there.

“The fielding and throwing programs are our main two focuses this off-season. With that, we have incorporated a Driveline program for our players to follow. It is still early but with consistent effort and training we believe we will take the next step this spring. We have also brought in a strength and pitching instructor Kurtis Robinson to help with our teams.”

Heading into the season and gearing up for CPBL play, the Nationals are excited to look forward to a new pre-season event and mix up their typical spring training routine for the year.

“We have also entered our 15U to 18U teams in the [Prep Baseball Report] Canada spring training showcase in Florida,” the program’s director of baseball operations said. “Having gone to play at Dodgertown for the previous three years, when we were invited to this event, we could not say no. With the exposure, practices, games, and a scout day, these players will have every opportunity to better themselves.

“After Florida, we will come back for a few weeks and gear up for the season. With some of the athletes we recruited and different programs we put in place this off-season, we can feel a different spark within the organization, which we hope continues into CPBL play.”

Beyond the season and with an eye on the future, the Nationals have right-hander Andrew Hazell heading to Mars Hill University, along with several alumni members of the organization making moves and changes for the fall.

CPBL set to open third season with prospect showcase and tournament

The third season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League is upon us, and the Ontario Blue Jays, Great Lake Canadians, Toronto Mets, Fieldhouse Pirates, Ontario Nationals and Team Ontario Astros are set to start in a big way with the circuit-opening showcase and tournament in Dorchester and St. Marys over the first weekend of May. 

Beginning on Thursday, May 3 at the Field of Dreams in Dorchester, 27 of the league’s top draft prospects – selected by the team in conjunction with a number of area and national scouts – will run the 60-yard dash, throw from their respective catching, infield, and outfield positions, and then take batting practice before the first of three games on the opening day of the event. 

“When we first started the CPBL, we thought a way to kick off the season would be showcasing the top talent in an atmosphere where players eligible for the draft would be able to showcase themselves right before the draft,” CPBL executive Adam Stern said. “And it’s a chance for them to square off against each other and to see the teams play, with some of the best talent in Canada. That was the whole premise behind it, the ability to group some of the best Ontario talent and showcase it in an exciting atmosphere at the beginning of the season.”

The same event was set to be held last year, but because of inclement weather in the area, the showcase had to moved indoors and all of the games in the opening weekend’s tournament had to be cancelled. 

“We had so much interest in that opening weekend [last year], so I’m hoping that we can generate the same interest level,” CPBL executive Chris Robinson said. “Obviously with some of the draft-eligible guys from throughout the league, we should be able to make it a weekend where people are coming up to watch. 

“I’m starting to hear from scouts and schools that they’re going to be here, so that’s exciting for us because it’s one event that we have really wanted to develop.”

Coming off of tours with the Canadian Junior National Team, CPBL position players Dasan Brown, Jaden Brown, Blake Buckle, Daniel Carinci, Denzel Clarke, Ryan Faragher, Joel McKnight, Noah Naylor and TJ Schofield-Sam are the invitees who will headline the morning showcase. 

Also invited to the morning event to kick off the tournament are 2018 draft-eligible players Jordan Babcock, Tyler Black, Brandon Clarke, Brett Graham, Spencer Marcus, David Mccabe, Justin Raspanti, Cam Sanderson, Ryan Santos and Austin Wilkie. From the 2019 class, invited participants include Zach Cameron, Kenny Diclemente, Owen Diodati, Simon Grinberg, Tyler Hinrikus, Noah Hull, Ryan Leitch, and Eric Martin.

The first game of the tournament is set to get underway at one o’clock on Thursday afternoon with the 18U Great Lake Canadians taking on the Ontario Blue Jays 18U squad at the Field of Dreams in Dorchester. The 18U teams from the GLC, OBJ, Nationals, Pirates and Mets organizations will all play at least one game before the conclusion of the first day of the tournament. 

All 17U and 18U squads in the CPBL will play four games throughout the course of the weekend event, splitting time between the Field of Dreams in Dorchester and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys. Games will run ahead of schedule when possible, with matchups on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on a two-and-a-half-hour time limit. There will be no extra innings, and infields will be taken by teams when time allows. A coin toss will designate the home team in each contest.

CPBL prospect showcase headlines opening weekend tournament

The second season of the Canadian Premier Baseball League is upon us, and the Fieldhouse Pirates, Great Lake Canadians, Ontario Blue Jays, Ontario Nationals, Team Ontario and Toronto Mets are set to start in a big way with the circuit-opening showcase and tournament in Dorchester and St. Marys over the first weekend of May.

Beginning on Thursday, May 4 at the Field of Dreams, 28 of the programs’ top draft prospects – selected in conjunction with a number of area and national scouts – will run the 60-yard dash, throw from their respective catching, infield, and outfield positions, and then take batting practice before the first of three games on the opening day of the event.

“The tournament adds a ton of value,” one American League scout said. “In a typical year, it can be tough to see Canadian players leading up to the draft, especially outside of the junior team facing professionals. But this is the best players in Ontario against the best players. It’s a unique perspective that Canadians didn’t have in the past and we’re lucky to have now.”

Coming off of their second trip of the spring with the Canadian Junior National Team, CPBL position players Dondrae Bremner, Cooper Davis, Adam Hall, Lucas Parente, and 2018-eligible hitters Denzel Clarke and Noah Naylor will headline the morning showcase.

Also selected to the morning event to kick off the tournament are 2017 draft-eligible players Rashad Collymore, Brett Corbeth, Jameson Hart, Tyrell Hebert, Owen Jansen, David Mendham, Noah Myers, Jacob Newton, Bryce O’Farrell, Mitch Osborne, Parker Walker and Malik Williams. They will be joined by 2018-eligible players Tyler Black, Blake Buckle, Daniel Carinci, Kurt Dawkins, Leo Markotic, David McCabe, Justin Raspontie, Aidan Safar, and Mackenzie Strong, and 2019 Zach Cameron.

The first game is set to get underway Thursday at one o’clock, featuring the league’s reigning champion Ontario Blue Jays against the Great Lake Canadians, with righties Nathan Holmes and Jonathan Burkhart squaring off. The following game between the OBJ and Toronto Mets will see Junior National Team southpaw Harley Gollert match up against Hayden Malenfant. The final contest of the first day of the four-day tournament will see Team Canada hurler Landon Leach and the Mets take on Noah Skirrow and the Canadians.

“It is with great anticipation that I look forward to the inaugural CPBL showcase to be held in Dorchester on May 4th,” said Jay Lapp, the Canadian scouting supervisor for the Milwaukee Brewers. “The organizers of this event have assembled the top area prospects for the upcoming 2017 [MLB] draft. The showcase will give professional scouts the opportunity to evaluate all the top players over a four-day period in a highly-competitive environment.

“This event is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all those involved. In a short time, the CPBL has developed an outstanding program, providing countless young players an opportunity to pursue their dream of a career in professional baseball.”

All 17U and 18U squads in the CPBL will play four games throughout the course of the weekend event, splitting time between the Field of Dreams in Dorchester and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys.

CPBL set to open with prospect showcase and tournament

The countdown to the second Canadian Premier Baseball League season is on.

Multiple CPBL teams have already taken to the field in Florida for spring training, and a number of Ontario representatives are gearing up to head to St. Petersburg and then Orlando with the Canadian Junior National Team, and it won’t be long before the six teams at the top tier of the circuit – the Toronto Mets, Great Lake Canadians, Ontario Blue Jays, Team Ontario, Ontario Nationals and Fieldhouse Pirates – take to the diamond in Dorchester for the CPBL’s opening series, a tournament-style showcase for 18U and 17U  players over the first weekend of May.

Before the games begin for the weekend on Thursday, May 4, the event will kick off with a small prospect showcase that morning, with participating players will be selected by a number of Canadian scouts, and attending by invitation only.

Three 18U games will then kick off the tournament, with the Great Lake Canadians and reigning-champion Ontario Blue Jays squaring off in the afternoon. The defending champs will then take on the Toronto Mets, followed by a matchup between the Mets and Canadians on Thursday evening. Friday will see four games, with Saturday hosting a slate of six games, and Sunday featuring nonstop action with seven contests.

All games on Thursday and Friday will take place at the Field of Dreams in Dorchester, with the diamonds at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys being used as a secondary field on Saturday and Sunday. Matchups are set and are available for viewing, with home teams still yet to be determined and not accurately portrayed in the online schedule.

The contests will run ahead of schedule if at all possible, with infield taken by teams if time permits, and there will be no extra innings played in tournament play. The contests will count toward the league standings.

Ontario Black used CPBL players to win T12 semi-final

Before Tournament 12’s championship game on Monday night, two semi-final matchups were played to determine who would head into the final. BC Orange took down Atlantic Maroon 2-1 to secure their spot just before Ontario Black – a squad featuring 17 Canadian Premier Baseball League players and two coaches from the circuit – defeated Quebec Blue 5-1 to stay alive.

The Toronto Blue Jays-hosted showcase event brought more than 160 of Canada’s top draft and college-eligible players to the big-league stage, beginning on Thursday with a combine for upwards of 60 professional scouts and college coaches and finishing with the championship, after 18 games and five days. Players from the CPBL’s Great Lake Canadians, Ontario Nationals, Ontario Blue Jays and Toronto Mets programs took part.

Ontario Black was paced by Great Lake outfielder Lucas Parente in the semi-final, who had two RBI-triples, one scoring the first run of the game and the other sparking a four-run fifth-inning rally to ensure that the fourth edition of Tournament 12 would see another new province as its winner. He added an impressive inning-ending catch in the fourth inning to help stave off Quebec.

“We were saying it all game, he’s been hitting the ball really hard,” Black coach Chris Begg said. “We’ve been watching him make great plays in centre field, he’s getting good reads off the bat right away, and we’ve been impressed with him. This tournament is the first time I’ve seen him and I really like him. He’s a gamer. He’s not a big guy, but you can see the power he shows, he hits the ball hard, and he runs well.”

Canadian Junior National Team members Adam Hall, also a shortstop for the GLC program, and Noah Naylor, an Ontario Blue Jays catcher – currently the country’s top high school draft prospects for the 2017 and 2018 classes, respectively – each drove in a run in the matchup, with third baseman and Toronto Mets infielder Daniel Carinci adding an RBI of his own. After pinch-hitting in the top of the fifth, right fielder Antonio Cruz made an incredible diving catch in the bottom half of the frame to strand the bases loaded and keep the game where it was.

“We have some good leaders on this team, with the guys playing on the [Canadian Junior] National Team,” Begg said. “Then defensively this game we tightened up from our other games. Cruz made an unbelievable play in right field, that was huge, that was the turnaround play of the game right there. If that ball gets by him, it scores a couple of runs and then this is a one or two-run game.”

“Our guys on the mound have looked good, we’ve got guys who have good arms and have been able to throw strikes. With Noah behind the plate, he gives us some stability and shuts down the running game, so we’re pretty balanced all around.”

OBJ Right-hander Noah Skirrow got the start for the Black team, and after throwing four scoreless innings in its first game on Friday he threw four frames Monday, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. GLC righties Tyler Whalen and Mitchell Stemerdink combined for the final three scoreless innings.

T12 experience comes to an end for several CPBL players

After three days of games at Tournament 12, only one squad from Ontario remains, with 17 players and two coaches from the Canadian Premier Baseball League’s Great Lake Canadians, Ontario Blue Jays, Ontario Nationals and Toronto Mets programs left to fight for a spot in the championship.

Ontario Black made it into the semi-final round with big wins against Ontario Green, Alberta Red, and Quebec Blue, handed their only loss on a walkoff wild pitch against the tournament-leading BC Orange squad. Black will take on the team from Quebec once again Monday afternoon, with the winner heading into the final.

Against the Blue squad the first time around in Sunday’s first matchup of the day, Ontario Black held Quebec to just two hits in a 10-3 victory, using a six-run seventh inning to keep them alive in the fourth-annual tournament hosted by the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Great Lake Canadians outfielder Tyrell Hebert led the hitters, going 2-for-4 with a walk, a stolen base, and two RBI, while his Black teammates Antonio Cruz and first baseman Kyle Bryan each drove in two runs of their own.

Toronto Mets right-hander Hayden Malenfant got the start for Ontario and allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He was relieved by fellow right-hander Cameron Dyck, who shut Quebec out for three frames, walking two and fanning four.

“Our team is an exciting team to watch,” said Black and Great Lake Canadians coach Adam Stern. “It’s a very athletic team, a very dynamic team, guys can really run. It changes how you pitch to our guys because you know they’re looking to play an aggressive game, base stealing, our defence is very agile, and it’s a fun thing.

“Guys are throwing it over the plate for our team, and that stuff really can combine for having success in a tournament like this.”

Both the Futures Navy squad and the Ontario Green team saw their tournament runs come to an end on Sunday, Navy notching only three hits in a 5-2 loss to Atlantic Maroon and Green with an 8-1 win over BC Orange that wasn’t enough to keep the squad alive.

Three different players recorded knocks for the Futures team, all a part of CPBL programs. Heading into the Ontario Blue Jays program from the Mississauga North Tigers, 15-year-old infielder Tyrell Schofield-Sam singled in the second, before 16-year-old GLC infielder Cameron Sanderson added a single of his own in the fourth. Great Lake catcher Ian Jordan doubled and scored in the seventh.

15-year-old Canadians hurler Ryan Douglas took the mound in the fourth and allowed one unearned run on two hits with a walk and three strikeouts before the event came to an end for the squad in the second-last matchup of the day.

Sunday’s final game saw Ontario Green find the offence it needed just a little too late in the tournament, with four-time Tournament 12 participant Cooper Davis providing a spark from the top of the lineup that wasn’t enough.

“Every day he brings energy, excitement, and if he swings the bat like he did [Sunday], definitely plus offensive tools,” said Mike Steed, coaching Davis with both Ontario Green and the OBJ program. “He has a ton of energy at the top of the lineup and for me personally, that’s what every guy is looking for. Then he does what he does in centre field and he makes it easy on the pitchers when he can go run down balls left and right.”

On Sunday, Davis led his team in the contest with a single, a double, a walk, two stolen bases, two runs scored, and he drove in a run. He also showed game-changing speed in centre field, chasing down balls that looked like definite extra bases for the opposition. Green designated hitter and GLC outfielder Jameson Hart went 2-for-2 with two RBI in the win for Ontario, and the squad used five CPBL pitchers to keep BC’s offence at bay.

“It’s been amazing,” Davis said of the T12 experience. “It’s crazy looking back and thinking that I was 14 years old when I was first here. Everything [tournament commissioner] Robbie Alomar has done for me and everybody at Tournament 12 has been amazing.

“For a guy to come back and give to a community like that, and set up an event that really gives us Canadian players a…head start is special. I got to see it when I was 14, before anybody else could. So for me and Adam [Hall, the second of just two four-year participants], it was huge for us, as we were getting into the scouting world.”

Currently one of Canada’s top high school prospects heading into next year’s draft, and with plenty of showcase experience, and lots of eyes on him with the OBJ program and Canadian Junior National Team, the Vanderbilt University commit couldn’t be more grateful for what Tournament 12 offers to all of its participants.

“It’s different than playing in a big showcase or a world tournament,” Davis said. “The worlds were amazing, but then you get to come here and say, Mike Trout played centre field here, or David Ortiz stood in that same box a week ago. It’s so cool to be able to play in the exact same spot as major leaguers do.”

Tournament 12 kicks off with strong CPBL presence

Tournament 12 got underway at Rogers Centre on Thursday, and the Canadian Premier Baseball League is incredibly well-represented at the fourth-annual Toronto Blue Jays-hosted event, with 52 players and four coaches from around the circuit participating at the tournament.

In its fourth year, the showcase has brought together more than 160 of Canada’s top draft and college-eligible players from across the country, with almost a third of them coming from CPBL programs including the Great Lake Canadians, Ontario Blue Jays, Ontario Nationals and Toronto Mets.

“It’s a great sign to what our league has accomplished in such a short time,” said Kyle Fillier, 16U field manager for the Toronto Mets program. “We are confident that we have the best players, coaches, and teams in the province. This is a testament to the league, and we will continue to showcase the best players to the most scouts and colleges.”

The showcase began Thursday with a combine day for upwards of 60 professional scouts and college coaches at the big-league stadium. Players from each of the eight teams participating took turns running, throwing, and getting in some batting practice before games are set to begin on Friday morning, with the first players from Ontario seeing the field in the afternoon.

“We’ve gotten a lot better over the four years,” said Jamie Lehman, the Blue Jays area scout for Canada and New York. “That relates to player selection, and our footprint across the country, we’re seeing who we need to see now, and that’s led to a higher calibre of player in the tournament. Then at the same time, that’s been reflected in the colleges and pro teams that have come.

“Our tournament’s the best it’s been this year. The [T12] alumni and what they’re doing in professional baseball and college baseball are helping us prove that worth, and it’s only getting better.”

Named for and commissioned by Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar, the event is something that he is extremely proud to be a part of, and he believes the results have and will continue to speak for themselves.

“T12 is an opportunity for the young guys here in Canada to be seen by the scouts, from college and professional baseball, and hopefully we can make their dreams come true,” Alomar said. “This is our fourth year doing Tournament 12 and over 50 guys have been signed, going to play professionally and going to college, and I’m so glad that we have touched on this great opportunity.”

Alongside the 12-time All-Star are several other former major league players, who work as alumni coaches at the event. Returning to the showcase this year are Alomar’s father Sandy, former big-league infielder Mario Diaz, and fellow former Blue Jays George Bell, Lloyd Moseby, Duane Ward, Tanyon Sturtze and Devon White. Carlos Delgado joined the staff for the first time on Thursday, and was impressed by what the tournament provides.

“This is a great opportunity,” Delgado said. “Sometimes kids don’t get the exposure they need, and bringing them to Toronto and having all the scouts in the stands, it’s great. And the competition itself, playing against the best amateur players in the country, it would be a great experience. It’s a nice treat for the kids to come out and play here at Rogers Centre, and with some of the alumni. Robbie’s done a fantastic job to give these kids an opportunity.”

Only two players have participated in each of the four years of the event, GLC middle infielder Adam Hall and OBJ outfielder Cooper Davis. Back for their final turn at the tournament, Alomar is excited to see what they can bring to the showcase this year, and they’re just happy to return once again to Canada’s only major league field.

“This is their year,” Alomar said. “Now it’s time for them to show their skills. I know Cooper really well, and I like Cooper and Adam a lot. I’ve worked with them with the [Canadian Junior National] Team, so I know what they can bring to the table. It’s up to them now to showcase their skills here, in front of the scouts…they’re getting better, they’re getting stronger, they’re getting smarter.”

Said Hall: “It’s like graduating Tournament 12 now. The actual tournament itself hasn’t changed too much but my mindset on it has changed. Obviously the first year I was kind of just going there and not really knowing what to expect, not really knowing what exactly Canadian baseball was. But now, having the experiences that I’ve had there, I understand and I get what it’s going to be.”

Among the tournament’s coaching staffs are CPBL coaches Adam Stern and Chris Robinson, from the GLC program, John Marriotti of the Mets, and OBJ coach Mike Steed.